Championship leader Nasser Al Attiyah, 24th among the W2RC FIA entrants, will have some catching up to do in the 311 km special of stage 1. One of the drivers ahead of him will be his closest rival in the overall standings, Yazeed Al Rajhi, who finished third today. Sébastien Loeb (Bahrain Raid Xtreme), who needs to claw back 8 points from Juan Cruz Yacopini (Overdrive Racing) to snatch the third spot in the W2RC, was twelfth today and has a 29-second edge over the Argentinian.
Eryk Goczał made a brilliant debut in T3, but the title fight between the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA drivers grabbed all the attention. Mitch Guthrie gained 2 seconds on Seth Quintero (third) and 17 on Austin Jones (fifth). It was the perfect start in T4 for João Ferreira. The Portuguese went into the prologue with all guns blazing and ended up 1′22″ clear of Sebastián Guayasamín (FN Speed). Rebecca Busi (FN Speed) came in third, ahead of Shinsuke Umeda (Xtreme Plus). The Japanese is five stages away from wrapping up the season having completed 100% of the rallies on the calendar. Meanwhile, the duel for the T5 title is on between Martin Macík (MM Technology) and Janus van Kasteren (Boss Machinery Team De Rooy). The Czech, 11 points adrift in the ranking, gained 47 seconds on the Dutchman today.
Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda) took the RallyGP prologue, although Ross Branch (Hero MotoSports) came within 2 seconds of stealing the win from under his nose. The championship leader, Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna Factory Racing), finished sixth and conceded 16 seconds to his closest rival in the general standings, Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), third. The last man in contention for the title, Adrien Van Beveren (Monster Energy Honda), was eighth.
The BAS World KTM Racing riders, Bradley Cox and Michael Docherty, dominated the Rally2 prologue. Romain Dumontier, perched at the summit of the championship standings, also had a good day at the office after finishing fourth among the W2RC entrants and gaining 14 seconds on his rival for the title, Paolo Lucci. Ardit Kurtaj (Xraids Experience), the W2RC leader, clocked the fifth-fastest time, ahead of his closest rival in the championship, Massimo Camurri, who finished eighth.
Laisvydas Kancius showed exactly why he tops the W2RC quad leaderboard with a victory by 10 seconds over Manuel Andújar. His closest pursuer in the race for the title, Rodolfo Guillioli, shipped 1′43″.